Management Matters: is a New Article series dealing with the issues that arise when managing personnel and how to optimize your current staff in a company.
Dealing with Discrimination
June 1st, 2006
Dealing effectively with discrimination is a twofold process. First, become knowledgeable with regard to antidiscrimination laws. Then, pay close attention to what’s happening in your company.
Here are some general guidelines for managers to follow:
Pay attention to what you don’t always see. You can’t always see it, prove it or stop it, but if you ignore even the hint of discriminatory behavior, you and your company could suffer in the end.
Don’t play favorites. If you offer certain benefits to employees, make sure these perks are available to everyone. For instance, if you want to provide a flexible work arrangement for your older workers, avoid appearing discriminatory by being sure to offer this option to everyone.
Keep your personal beliefs personal. Your personal philosophy regarding race, religion, sexual orientation and other potentially contentious issues should not affect your duty to monitor workplace discrimination, nor should it cloud your views regarding what’s legal and just.
Be careful of what you say and to whom you say it. It’s easy for an off-the-cuff remark — by either you or an employee— to start an avalanche of bad feelings and even a charge of discrimination.
Respond quickly. If an employee expresses concern about possible workplace discrimination, do what you can in the shortest period to resolve the issue.
Educate yourself. Stay informed about workplace discrimination. Talk with your peers in similar and different industries, read the daily newspaper for information about what’s happening locally and conduct research on discrimination and harassment law. Consider paying an attorney who specializes in this area a one- or two-hour consulting fee and ask as many questions as you can.
Formalize the consequence. Create and post an antidiscrimination policy (or consider paying an expert to create one).